Do We Need Hate Crime Laws?

October 26, 1998
In the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard (the gay student in Wyoming) lots of things have been said. Matthew Shepard has become part of the an agenda for gay activists to promote tolerance for the homosexual lifestyle and to promote passage of hate crimes legislation.

I'll ignore the first part of the agenda so that I can talk about the second: hate crime laws. Years ago the American criminal justice system headed down the wrong road by enacting hate crime bills. They turn the concept of equal protection under the law on its head by increasing the penalties for some crimes based on the race of the victim.

Now you might be tempted to say to me, what right do you have to speak on this issue since you are white? Fair question. So let's listen to columnist Clarence Page on the topic. He says, "You don't have to be a bigot to oppose hate crime laws, although unfortunately it seems to help. . . . Yes, it is easy to oppose hate crime laws if you are a hater. . . . But it is tougher if you have serious reservations about hate crime laws based purely on principle."

He points out that as an African-American he belongs to one of the groups currently protected by hate crime legislation. Nevertheless, he says, "We don't need hate crime laws to prosecute the defendants in Mr. Shepard's murder. We simply need to enforce the laws that exist." And that is true; someone has said that basically we have 50,000 laws in America in order to enforce the 10 Commandments.

Vigorous enforcement of existing laws will bring about the same goal that hate crime legislation seeks to achieve. We don't need additional penalties for crimes committed against victims because of their racial, religious, or sexual orientation. We just need to enforce the laws already on the books.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International